Marcello Lippi has resigned as China head coach after taking responsibility for a 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Syria.

China remain in the hunt for the third round of AFC qualification, having thrashed Guam and the Maldives while drawing with Philippines, but they were beaten 2-1 by Group A leaders Syria on Thursday.

Zhang Linpeng scored an own goal 14 minutes from time to settle the match, leaving Lippi dismayed by both the result and the performance, swiftly announcing his departure.

"I don't want to talk about this game," he told a news conference.

"A team should give everything on the pitch. The tactics of the head coach should be carried out. If the player is afraid of losing the game, then there is no fighting spirit, desire, guts.

"It is my responsibility, the head coach's responsibility – although we defeated Guam and the Maldives. But the team we played against today is better, more coordinated and more organised than us. 

"My annual salary is very high, and I am fully responsible for this loss. Now I declare that I have officially resigned."

Veteran coach Lippi, who guided Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, had only been appointed China boss for a second time in May.

Lippi was coach from October 2016 to January 2019, before returning when replacement Fabio Cannavaro ​– his World Cup-winning captain – promptly left.

Brazil legend Pele believes Lionel Messi is the most complete player on the planet and one of "two or three" on par with the greats of previous eras.

The former Santos forward and three-time World Cup winner named Barcelona captain Messi, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar as the select few deserving to be discussed as the world's best.

Messi, 32, and Ronaldo, 34, have long dominated the game's most coveted individual awards but are reaching the latter stages of their highly decorated careers.

Selecao star Neymar became the most expensive player in history when he moved from Barca to PSG in 2017, but for Pele there is a clear standout among the trio.

"I think of Leo Messi," he told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked who he would most like to play alongside.

"He is a skilled player, gives assists, passes, scores, dribbles well. If we were in the team together, the opponents should worry about two players, not just one! Today, Messi is the most complete player."

However, when balancing the leading players of today compared to those of the past, he lamented a perceived lack of true stars.

"Once, you found two or three in every country with a great football culture," the 79-year-old said.

"Eusebio, Simoes, Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Maradona, Garrincha, Didi. How many did I say? There were so many.

"Today we have two or three in all. Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, I would say Neymar, who in Brazil has not yet managed to become a great figure."

That would change if Neymar inspired the country to glory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which will mark two decades since the South American nation's most recent triumph.

"I hope that at the next World Cup he is in good physical condition," Pele said.

"People criticise him, I even did it a few times, but we forget that he is a product of ours, of Santos. We always want the best for him. I talk about him often with his father.

"Technically, he is an excellent player."

Luis Suarez welcomed Barcelona's search for a new striker despite the threat it could bring to his starting spot.

LaLiga leaders Barca have been linked to Lautaro Martinez, Erling Haaland and Carlos Vela as they seek to strengthen Ernesto Valverde's attacking options.

The club failed to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain during the close season, leaving the squad light on competition for natural centre-forward Suarez.

The 32-year-old has scored six goals in eight LaLiga starts this season but knows he will not always be able to perform at the highest level.

"There will come a time when my age will not allow me to live up to what Barcelona needs to compete," Suarez told Uruguayan publication Ovacion.

"But as long as I can, as long as I have the strength, giving me competition is much better.

"That they are looking for or want to bring another number nine is nothing strange, it is the reality of football.

"It will be better for me and better for the club, because it will feed competition, and it will be better for the future because the club can prepare a player with the help of all the great players at Barcelona."

Suarez joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 and is now in his sixth season at Camp Nou.

The former Ajax forward plans to continue his career until at least the 2022 World Cup, which would be his fourth appearance at the tournament.

"I hope so," he said. "I am really convinced of that, yes."

Suarez is part of the Uruguay squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Hungary (November 15) and Argentina (November 18), his first involvement with the national team since the Copa America in June.

President Donald Trump has held talks with FIFA chief Gianni Infantino about how women's football can become "more equitable".

Trump, who openly rowed with star player Megan Rapinoe during the United States' Women's World Cup triumph, met Infantino at the White House.

The US women's national team are embroiled in a long-running battle with US Soccer in a battle to secure pay parity with their male counterparts, a far less successful team on the world stage.

Trump has yet to make his position clear in that argument, but after talks with FIFA president Infantino he said: "Gianni and I just had a meeting on women’s soccer and what everybody’s going to do to make that even better and more equitable, etc etc."

Infantino added: "[In] women's soccer, where you are world champion, there is much more to do. The president was saying this to me and he is right.

"We are working with that and we will announce very soon some new initiatives."

Rapinoe said during the World Cup that she would not visit the White House if President Trump invited the team, triggering an angry response from the Oval Office. Trump suggested she had shown "disrespect" to her country.

The 34-year-old Rapinoe, who is gay and has used her platform to speak out on civil rights matters, refused to sing the US national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, during the World Cup in France. She previously supported NFL star Colin Kaepernick when - in an action that was rebuked by President Trump - he took a knee before games during the anthem in protest at racial injustice in the US.

Rapinoe has also urged Infantino to make his voice heard in the equal-pay dispute.

Trump and Infantino were meeting primarily on Monday to discuss the United States' co-hosting of the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.

"We are, as you probably know, getting the World Cup in 2026 for the United States," Trump said. "Some of it is a partnership with Mexico and Canada. It's coming into the United States for a large percentage of the games.

"We're very excited about it."

Diego Maradona claims his guidance on the training ground helped transform a luckless Lionel Messi into one of modern football's deadliest free-kick takers.

The legendary Maradona coached Barcelona superstar Messi during Argentina's eventful 2010 World Cup campaign.

Messi won his second Ballon d'Or that year but failed to get on the scoresheet in South Africa as the Albiceleste crashed out in the quarter-finals, losing 4-0 to Germany.

Despite Argentina's talisman not scoring at that tournament, Maradona feels that period was when the forward was at the peak of his powers.

But the new Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata boss believes a dose of his own wisdom was needed to elevate the attacker's dead-ball skills to the world-class level they have reached.

"Messi, in the World Cup I was in charge, all the goalkeepers [we played against] were the man of the match," Maradona said.

"He hit all the posts. Now he can't miss. It's a simple story.

"I had the best Messi and nobody can tell me otherwise, because he was able to skip past up to five players. A phenomenon. 

"But he had an issue with free-kicks. When we finished every training session we kept Leo behind so he could practice, and he started to hit the post. I didn't teach him how to take a free-kick. 

"Then he asked me how I was able to score."

Maradona described his advice as being simply to "hit it in the middle".

"And he replied, 'But I hit it in the middle and the ball goes this way or that way', and I told him, 'Don't worry, you're going to make it'," the former Napoli favourite added.

"Now he just can't miss."

Messi, now 32, has forged a reputation as a feared free-kick taker, his most notable effort last season a sublime strike from beyond 25 yards against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.

Maradona left his national team post after the World Cup nine years ago but has returned to his homeland to take charge of top-flight Gimnasia.

Argentina World Cup winner Jose Luis Brown has died at the age of 62.

The former La Albiceleste defender had been battling Alzheimer's disease.

Brown, who was nicknamed 'Tata' throughout his career, made 36 appearances for his country, the most famous of which came in the 1986 World Cup final in Mexico.

Brown scored his side's first goal against West Germany, setting them on their way to a 3-2 win.

He dislocated his shoulder late in the match but refused to be substituted – a move that cemented his place in Argentinian football folklore.

Five former football officials have been indicted by the Office of the General Attorney of Switzerland (OAG) on charges of fraudulently misleading the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup.

Ex-German Football Association (DFB) officials Wolfgang Niersbach, Theo Zwanziger and Horst Rudolf Schmidt, along with former FIFA secretary general Urs Linsi, are alleged by Swiss prosecutors "to have fraudulently misled the members of a supervisory body of the DFB organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany (OC WC 2006) in April 2005 about the true purpose of a payment of around €6.7million".

Zwanziger, Schmidt and Linsi are accused of committing fraud, in which Niersbach is alleged to have been complicit. All four have denied the claims.

Fraud proceedings against former Germany star Franz Beckenbauer, who was also implicated, will be separate due to his inability to be questioned for health reasons.

Proceedings relating to alleged money laundering were abandoned last month, the OAG said.

The OAG claims Beckenbauer – part of the 2006 organising committee's presidential board with Niersbach, Zwanziger and Schmidt – received a loan of €10m into his personal account from Adidas CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 2002.

According to the OAG, this sum was then "used to fund various payments" to a Qatari company belonging to Mohammed Bin Hammam, the former president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who was banned for life from football by FIFA in 2012 due to conflicts of interest.

The OAG was unable to determine the purpose of the payments to Bin Hammam – at the time a member of FIFA's Executive Committee and Finance Committee.

The OAG's statement continued: "In April 2005, the debt due by Franz Beckenbauer in respect of the personal loan was repaid: €6.7m (the equivalent of the amount due in Swiss francs at exchange rate at the time) was first transferred from an account held by the DFB – respectively by the OC WC 2006 – to FIFA and on the same day transferred by FIFA as a simple 'pass-though' payment to a Swiss account held by Robert Louis-Dreyfus. The indictment filed by the OAG relates to this repayment by the accused of the loan made to Franz Beckenbauer.

"In the summer of 2003, Robert Louis-Dreyfus contacted the presidential board directly to request the repayment of the loan after Franz Beckenbauer had failed to meet a number of repayment deadlines.

"The accused were aware that their supervisory board, the Presidential Commission, which had to agree to any payment of this size, would not agree to the repayment of the loan using funds belonging to the DFB or the OC WC 2006.

"Nevertheless, in order to secure the repayment by the DFB or the OC WC 2006, the accused falsely claimed at a meeting with the supervisory board of the OC WC 2006 on April 8, 2005 that the payment to FIFA would be a contribution towards the joint funding by the DFB or the OC WC 2006 of the FIFA opening ceremony for the 2006 World Cup.

"In fact, the accused had already agreed at the time of the meeting that Urs Linsi would arrange for FIFA to transfer the sum directly to Robert Louis-Dreyfus in order to repay the personal loan made to Franz Beckenbauer."

Mario Gotze believes his 2014 World Cup-winning goal for Germany was "not that great" for his career, conceding it created "huge" expectations.

Borussia Dortmund star Gotze, then of rivals Bayern Munich, was long tipped to be one of the world's very best and had a decisive impact in the biggest match of his life when he scored the only goal of the final against Argentina at the Maracana.

But having failed to kick on in the subsequent years, returning to Dortmund and falling out of favour with the national team amid a metabolic disorder that sidelined him for five months, Gotze acknowledges the expectation became too much.

"Once I stop playing, it will probably be the experience I cherish most, the first thing that comes to mind," he told The Athletic. "There is nothing more amazing [than the final goal].

"But for my active career, it was not that great, perhaps. The strong emotional response created huge expectations.

"It became lodged in people's minds that I was the guy to score decisive goals in decisive games all the time. That was the assumption out there."

Rather than concerning himself continuing to try to live up to those expectations, though, Gotze is content with first performing for Dortmund.

"It would be great to play another big [international] tournament, but it's not my target right now," he added.

"My priority is to reach my personal goals with Dortmund. I can't influence anything else. There is always an element of luck involved in getting called up."

Gotze believes he can enjoy his football under Lucien Favre, while he gives little thought to the idea he has failed to fulfil huge potential.

"I'm doing well, I'm relaxed, I'm very cool," he said. "In any job, it's important that you're feeling comfortable, that your body works and that you can find your inner balance.

"The most important thing for me right now is to enjoy playing football. I want to relish the experience in the knowledge that many things tend to happen over the course of a season. To deal with these situations, to appreciate them, that's the trick.

"What does 'doing justice to your potential' mean? I'm not a big fan of imagining what could have been. There is no point.

"All I can do is to stay true to myself and to the journey I'm on. I want to grow, I want to improve, I want to achieve the maximum possible at any given moment.

"I want to be able to say that I went my own way at the end and performed to the very limit of my ability."

Lionel Scaloni will take charge of Argentina in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) has confirmed.

Scaloni was part of Argentina's coaching staff for their poor campaign at Russia 2018, after which Jorge Sampaoli left his post.

The AFA put the former Deportivo La Coruna defender in charge, initially on a temporary basis, and he led Argentina to the Copa America semi-finals, where they lost to rivals and eventual champions Brazil.

But it seems Scaloni has done enough to impress the AFA as he will be staying in charge for their qualifying campaign.

"The executive committee of the AFA decided to give continuity during the next qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that will begin next year, to the selection project headed by Lionel Scaloni," an AFA statement said.

Argentina won the Copa America third-place play-off earlier this month against Chile in a match that saw star forward Lionel Messi controversially sent off.

They are set to face Chile, Mexico and Germany in friendlies ahead of starting on the road to Qatar.

Australia will battle old demons after being thrust into the same group as Jordan in the second round of AFC qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

The draw took place in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday and put the Socceroos on a collision course with a team that has had their measure in recent years.

Jordan have won three of five meetings since 2012, among them a 1-0 victory at the Asian Cup in January.

Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal round out Group B.

Asia's top-ranked team, Iran, are to face Bahrain, Cambodia, Hong Kong and the tricky Iraq in Group C.

Continental champions Qatar, heavyweights Japan, and South Korea, who beat Germany at the last World Cup, have each been handed straightforward paths into the third round of qualifying.

The group winners and four best runners-up advance to the third qualifying phase, with those 12 teams to also qualify automatically for the Asian Cup in four years' time.

The next best 24 teams will compete in a separate qualifying competition to determine the remaining places at China 2023.

Group A: China, Syria, Philippines, Maldives, Guam

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait, Nepal

Group C: Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Cambodia

Group D: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen, Singapore

Group E: Bangladesh, Oman, India, Afghanistan, Qatar

Group F: Japan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Mongolia

Group G: UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia

Group H: South Korea, Lebanon, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka

Former UEFA president Michel Platini has been detained by police in France as part of an investigation into the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The French Ministry of Justice confirmed that anti-corruption officers took the 63-year-old in for questioning in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday morning.

Platini is currently serving a four-year ban from football after FIFA's Ethics Committee found that he received a 'disloyal payment' from former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

A statement from the Ministry of Justice, given to Omnisport, read: "Platini was taken in for questioning on Tuesday by officers of the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police.

"Following questioning, he was detained."

Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010, during which time Platini served on the FIFA executive committee, triggering controversy over the country's suitability to stage the game's biggest event.

Platini and Blatter were cleared of corruption charges relating to the 'disloyal payment' in 2015 but both were found guilty of a series of other breaches, including a conflict of interest and dereliction of duty, and banned by FIFA for eight years.

The ban was reduced to six years by FIFA's appeals committee and then to four by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Platini, a former France international midfielder, has always denied any wrongdoing.

FIFA has yet to comment.

Jamaica women’s football coach Hue Menzies believes the team was badly hurt by its inexperience on the back of a 5-0 drubbing from Italy, at the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Saturday.

A hat-trick from Cristiana Girelli (12th, 25th and 46th) and a brace from Aurora Galli left the Jamaican team searching for answers once again, particularly defensively, after another heavy defeat.

Girelli got the Italians going from the penalty spot in the 12th minute after defender Allyson Swaby brought down Barbara Bonansea.  The shot was, however, only converted on a second attempt as Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider was penalised after a VAR review for moving off the line.  Girelli doubled the lead after latching on to the corner and beat Schneider to a header early in the second half.

  “Our inexperience showed.  We went out there and gave up a cheap goal.  I think it started from the first half with the penalty, it just bringing down the emotions of the players but hopefully, we can learn from this.  Hopefully, we can get more resources and play these types of games more often,” Menzies said.

“Italy played with a lot of class a lot of commitment and a lot of discipline we need to take a page out of their book.  They are a well-coached team so a lot of respect goes out to them,” he added.

 

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Alvin Jones, the player whose lethal long-range bullet led to the end of perennial powerhouses United States’ FIFA World Cup campaign, admits he is looking forward to a reunion in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.

T&T and the United States will face off in Group D of the tournament, which also includes Guyana and Panama.  The teams are set to face off at the FirstEnergy Stadium, in Cleveland on June 22.

Jones dramatically scored the first goal in a 2-1 win for T&T, which eliminated heavy favourites the United States from World Cup qualification.  The result sent shockwaves across the region and around the world.

“The last time we played the US we defeated them 2-1.  We have a better team at the moment.  We aren’t taking them lightly, we know they are home and it will be a very important game in the group stage.  For me personally, we take it game by game and when we reach the US we know it will be a challenging game.”

“We just have to take it game by game.  We just have to go for the win and I think six points is enough to go through.”

The United States are the competition’s defending champions.

 

Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hue Menzies said his players have managed to put the weekend’s travel mishaps behind and are settling in nicely before Tuesday’s final World Cup warm-up match against a tough Scotland unit on Tuesday.

Luka Modric described winning the Ballon d'Or as a unique honour after beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann to the individual award.

Modric is the first Croatia player to win the Ballon d'Or and his triumph at Monday's ceremony ends the decade-long dominance of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have five titles apiece.

Croatia's run to the World Cup final earned Modric the Russia 2018 Golden Ball and he was also given FIFA's The Best Men's Player award earlier in the year.

But the France Football-organised Ballon d'Or is still considered the top individual honour in world football, with Modric delighted to be recognised as the finest player on the planet in 2018.

"It's a unique feeling, I'm happy, proud and it's an honour," Modric said on collecting the prize. "[There are] extraordinary emotions at the moment. 

"I just want to thank all those who helped me to be here tonight, I thank my team-mates, my coaches, the staff and Real Madrid, all those who work there, the coaches and team-mates in the national team, the ones who voted for me and my family, which allows me to blossom as a person.

"Always have dreams, I wanted to play in a big club, win titles, the Ballon d'Or is all I could dream [about] as a child, it's an honour to win it tonight.

"It's a great pleasure to be here around these players. I keep thinking, I'm trying to get used to being part of this group of exceptional players who have won the Ballon d'Or in history. It's a great pleasure to be part of this group.

"Throughout my career I understood that work, persistence, believing in yourself, is the basis for expressing your talent. I like a saying - the best is never easy. For me, it was not easy. It was necessary to seize the opportunities."

Real Madrid midfielder Modric feels playing deeper in midfield for club and country has enabled him to take his game to the next level.

"To change position allowed me to develop my game, before I was more an offensive player," said Modric, who won a third consecutive Champions League title with Madrid this year.

"When I retreated, I had a better vision of the game, I could better express my creativity, my game. In my second year in Tottenham, I played as a midfielder and I felt better in the middle."

Ronaldo finished second in the voting, with Atletico Madrid striker and France international Griezmann in third after winning both the World Cup and the Europa League in 2018.

Kylian Mbappe missed out on a place in the top three but was given the inaugural Kopa Trophy for the world's best male player aged under 21.

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